Elif Shafak was born in France in 1971 and spent her childhood in Spain. After studying political science in Turkey, she went on to hold teaching positions in the United Kingdom, Turkey, and the United States. Her publications include both novels and essays, among them The Saint of Incipient Insanities, Bit Palas, Mahrem, which won the Turkish Writers' Association Best Novel of the Year Award, and Sehrin Aynalari. Her reviews have appeared in The Economist, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, and The Washington Post.
Her novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, was the subject of an interrogation and trial under Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which prohibits "public denigration of Turkishness." Shafak was acquitted of charges in September 2006.